Atlas V Launches National Security Satellite

Atlas V launches the NROL-61 satellite. (Credit: ULA)
Atlas V launches the NROL-61 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., July 28, 2016 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense. This is ULA’s 6th launch in 2016 and the 109th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

“Thank you to the entire mission team for years of hard work and collaboration on today’s successful launch of NROL-61. We are proud the U.S. Air Force and NRO Office of Space Launch have entrusted ULA with delivering this critical asset for our nation’s security,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. “Our continued one launch at a time focus and exceptional teamwork make launches like today’s successful.”

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 421 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter Extra Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF). The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.

ULA’s next launch is the Delta IV AFSPC-6 satellite for the U.S. Air Force. The launch is scheduled for Aug. 19 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at, and


  • ReSpaceAge

    I watched the launch on the spaceflight now site. At the time of launch they showed about 3500 viewers. I found their description of the vehicle fun and I formative, liked the video of them moving the vehicle to the pad. I’m not sure if the 3500 viewers was just the people watching through the spaceflight now link or the total number if viewers??

    109 🙂 Amazing!

    Even got a liked from Mr. BRUNO.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Made my day

  • Arthur Hamilton

    “while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.”
    Great launch!!!
    All of the major launch providers have had launch delays before for one reason or another. And I wouldn’t call ULA’s prices significant savings for the government. With competition back into the launch business, they have to start reducing their price of each launch.

  • John_The_Duke_Wayne

    “Great launch!!!”


    “With competition back into the launch business, they have to start reducing their price of each launch.”

    I’m interested to see what their pricing on the next competitive bid is going to be. Placing my bet on $121 million

  • windbourne

    They will not come close to spacex with Atlas.
    If we are going to subsidize, it should be the DIV since DivH is required anyways.

  • windbourne

    Meh, probably half of the viewers were from China, Russia, iran, and North Korea.